Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We live in violent times

In the wake of the frenzy over the Zuma trial and verdict I thought I'd steer clear of any comment on that issue and rather offer up a more interesting piece of general knowledge.

I recently finished reading Catch Me a Killer by Micki Pistorius. She worked as a profiler for the South African Police service from 1994-2000. The book is well written and very interesting. Apparently South Africa has the second highest number of serial killers in the world after America. Now that's something worth thinking about. She also offers a slightly simplified (but not dumbed down) description at the end of the book on the development of a serial killer from a psychoanalytical point of view (Freudian school of thinking). It may be because I'm studying personality theory at the moment, but I also thought that that was well worth a read for any interested party.

Talking about Freud. I am just finishing off reading through his work on personality and about to start the study guide work. He does seem to base a hell of a lot on repressed sexual urges. My textbook is well written though and they do give a background to each therapist and theory. In Freud's case they ask you to bear in mind that he lived and worked during the Victorian era when a woman was covered from head to toe and sex was not spoken about in polite company. Woman were not expected to have any sexual satisfaction or enjoyment and knew very little or nothing about sex when they got married. So in that respect his view points do make more sense. The writers of the textbook also go on to point out that most other personality theories developed from Freud's work, so even though some of his ideas are not as applicable now as they once were, it is important to understand his work. It's really interesting, but don't let me bore you any more.

Last post's trivia answer

Well done to zenstar for getting it in first (even though you had to Google for it).

Trivia question
American Pie by Don McLean was inspired by the deaths of who in 1959 ?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blogito ergo sum

Yes, I blog therefore I am. You can all thank my little (big) brother for expanding my latin vocabulary.

Since I'm on the subject of my brother he appears to have started Google Wars between the two of us and is unfortunately ownzoring me. He was even so kind as to e-mail me the proof.

He may have won this round, but I'm sure I can come up with something nefarious as payback. But he is awfully cute.

As you can see the first round of trivia has been concluded and the scores computed. Moonflake was the only person to submit the correct answer and without a Google search so I decided to give her a bonus 5 points. Obviously she's actually listened when I've gone off on a rant about one of my favourite topics (development and embryology). kleinbaas was awarded 1 point for his Google-fu comment.

Last post's trivia answer:
Sonic the Hedgehog

I am aware that people will Google for the answers, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that. Bonus points for non-Googled answers will be given.

Trivia question:
What is South Africa's national fish ? (yes, we have one)

And now for that holiday update that I promised all of you. The photos haven't been transferred to the PC yet, but they will be added later.

Holiday report

Our first stop was at the Battlefields Caravan Park in Dundee. The area is within easy driving distance of the major battlefields of both the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars. We spent Easter weekend there with my Aunt (dad's sister), Uncle and cousin. The park is in the yard of a farm house. The owners are keen caravaners and very friendly people. During the course of our stay we were adopted by one of their dogs - a fox terrier who was a puppy when I was there with my parents in June last year. He has personality enough for 10 dogs and we affectionately named him "Hius toe" which, for those of you who don't speak afrikaans, means "go home". But he never listened.

We learned about the above mentioned wars in primary school and they were never my favourite section of history, but I have to admit that actually going to the battlefields makes it a lot more real and at this age I can actually appreciate the stories and the sacrifices. Our first battlefield stop was Blood River. Of the ones we visited it was the one that least impressed me. The museum is well organised though and the original carved wagon is beautiful. However I did find that the information was seriously skewed towards the Boer perspective. I was hoping for more balance I guess. The second battlefield to come to out attention was Isandlwana. At the end of this great battle - one of the worst defeats in British colonial history and a spectacular victory for the Zulus - 1357 black and white colonial troops lay dead and 3000 Zulu warriors lay dead or dying. The British were horribly outnumbered by an estimated 20 000 strong Zulu army. The battlefield itself has a small museum but the true experience only comes when you're standing at the base of the small mountain where the British camp was looking out over the hills. The day was chilly and overcast when we visited and this added a sombre backdrop to the haunting scenery. The area is covered with white cairns marking where British soldiers fell. No book can tell the story as well as those simple stones. As I looked down the small valley heading towards Rorke's Drift where the few survivors fled to the cairns continued to tell there silent tale. A tale of fear in the face of an overwhelming force, of confusion, of death. It was a very poignant moment. At Rorke's Drift (the story that is told in the movie Zulu with Michael Caine, but filmed at Royal National in the Drakensberg) some of the original buildings still stand and there is a beautiful sculpture in memory of the Zulu warrors who fell at that battle.

After five days at Dundee we packed up and moved off to Hlalanathi ("stay with us" in Zulu) - a park in the Northern Drakensberg. We spent a very relaxing six nights there. We went on a tour of Eskom's Drakensville hydroelectric power station. It was awesome - you go 62 floors down into the mountain. The pump water between two dams to generate electricity for the national grid during peak usage periods. Apart from that we sampled various hotels' scones for tea and I even managed to get a bit of a tan reading in the sun. It was a bit chilly at night though I will say so we were all in bed by 9 o'clock. The only problem with caravaning being the walking to the bathroom. Not pleasant when it's cold and dark. Just take my word for it.

The camp is also home to a family group of rock dassies who we discovered have voracious appetites. Their bottom jaw and tongue seem to act as a mini-conveyer belt and food disappears very rapidly. They are espeially partial to bread. The antics of my little family kept us amused for many hours. For example - to avoid their food being stolen they would keep their bums to each other and go round and round in circles if needs be. Although they are definitely wild animals and were skittish around humans they have a very childlike curiousity and would come and take food out of my hand. The problem came when all 7 of them wanted food and one little blighter decided I wasn't handing it out fast enough, so grabbed it out of my hand. In so doing sinking one of his very long and sharp top incisors into the bed of my thumb nail. That was a tad sore !!! Needless to say I was less than pleased and pain and shock had me crying like a little girl. My parents and brother thought it was hysterical. And after talking to Dave M and Mels the other day and having them kill themselves laughing as well I must admit that it may be funny. As Dave M said - of all of the wild animals in Africa I had to get bitten by a dassie. Yes, a small furry vegetarian. And after they asked - no, it was not a full moon, so I don't forsee me turning into a small furry vegetarian that people want to cuddle any time soon.

Last stop was Nottingham Road in the KZN Midlands. Now that was cold !!!!! In fact it was friggin freezing Mr Bigglesworth. We didn't do much newsworthy there, but I had a great time relaxing and looking at the various arts and crafts around the area. I bought a beautiful glass bead bracelet for myself. And most importantly - my dad had a very relaxing holiday and managed to de-stress.

An that is the end of my holiday tale. I trust you can still read through your tears of laughter and muttered dassie comments.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon

I have been fascinated for a relatively long time now by the very popular game: Six degrees of Kevin Bacon. After a very brief web search I discovered that the game was originally developed by three college students and is based on the premise that Kevin Bacon is the centre of the entertainment universe. With this basic assumption in mind they went on to propose that any actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon, typically by a maximum of six degrees. The number of links to Mr Bacon are called an individual's Bacon number.

Yet more people have taken this theory further and stated that any person can be linked to someone else in the world by six or seven degrees. Now I may not be too sure about that one, but I'm really with people on this whole Kevin Bacon thing. I believe that it is possible for mere mortals such as myself to have a Bacon number of 6 or less even living out here in good old South Africa. Follow my logic for a moment and be amazed.

  1. I know my brother, Eric Parry.
  2. Eric Parry has met Adrian Bellengere (boss's brother).
  3. Adrian Bellengere was a stunt double for Joseph Fiennes in Man to Man (2005).
  4. Joseph Fiennes was in Shakespeare in Love (1998) with Colin Firth.
  5. Colin Firth was in Where the Truth Lies (2005) with Kevin Bacon.

Bacon number = 5

Not too bad for a South African girl from Port Shepstone who has never been out of the country. A fun website to check out in this regard is: The Oracle of Bacon.

Right - I was going to update you all with exciting news and happenings from my two week caravaning holiday with the parental units (hence the slightly longer than usual silence), but I sort of got carried away getting my page to look the way I wanted it to. So time sacrificed for aesthetics as opposed to news today I'm afraid. The holiday update will hopefully follow soon.

I put a new counter in - the software looks interesting. It allows you to track what countries people are from that are looking at your page and other cool stats. Unfortunately it means we have to start at 0 again. Oh well - you win some you loose some.

I have so far passed the assignments that UNISA has seen fit to actually mark and put the results on the web (2 of 5). Not bad for home studying, but I'm not ecstatically pleased with the 60% I got for the one. At least it's a pass i guess. I was battling to focus on them blabbering away on the theory behind theory and thought that that may have an effect. But in the greater scheme of things it won't be that big a section. Oh my god - I'm slowly morphing into that most hated of all - a social science student. My therapist was very amused when I mentioned that I had to wing a couple of sections for my assignments (i.e. read only the relevant bits as opposed to everything) and he burst out laughing and welcomed me to the social sciences.

I'd like to welcome people's opinions and suggestions about my page. Feel free to get in touch through the comments page.

I have also decided to introduce something new and fun to my page. A trivia quiz. Every post I will ask a trivia question and people need to post comments with their answers. Date stamps will verify who got there first. There will be 10pt for 1st place, 5pt for 2nd and 2pt for 3rd. I hope people will find it fun and entertaining for a bit of a change. The questions will vary in difficulty and style as I come up with them. I have set up a leader board on the site to track people's progress.

Trivia question
A crucial developmental gene/protein is named after a popular computer game character first seen in 1990. Name this character.